RE:  June 21st, National Aboriginal Day (Indigenous Day)

RE: June 21st, National Aboriginal Day (Indigenous Day)

Kwi Awt Stelmexw hosted our second annual gala in April and rasied $50,000 towards the development of a language centre!

“What the people do with the land defines who we are.”

“We either bring our languages back, or we die,” says Khelsilem, the founder of the Squamish Language Immersion Program at SFU. With Trudeau’s announcement of a National Indigenous Languages Act, and with today’s announcement of renaming National Aboriginal Day to National Indigenous Day, we think it’s a great day to consider directly supporting Indigenous projects — perhaps support the project whose land you are on!

Kwi Awt Stelmexw (KAS) is an independent Sḵwx̱wú7mesh art & education organization with a mandate to train, mentor, and create collaborative opportunities for Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people to strengthen artistic practices and knowledge. Working in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh communities, and in the City of Vancouver, KAS builds partnerships to create a vibrant, educated society of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh creatives. It is a unique model which melds the best of urban and Indigenous approaches.  KAS has successfully launched a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language immersion program through Simon Fraser University, which at that time there were 10 fluent speakers of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim, but after eight months of the immersion program, there are now 14 more speakers.  Fifteen Squamish students are registered to start the second offering of the immersion program in September 2017.  

While this achievement is incredible, KAS sees a need to build a Squamish Language Centre to realize its language reclamation goals fully. And that is where you can become a partner!  

Your donations will go towards supporting the development for our Language Centre — all leading to our cultural resurgence and language reclamation.

Support us to bring the Squamish language back to the present so it can continue to thrive long into the future.



Yes, I would love to become a monthly donor!

Yes, I would love to make a one-time donation!


If you need help pronouncing our name, check out our audio Instagram post here.

Contest: Win Tickets to Attend the We Speak! Fundraising Gala

Contest: Win Tickets to Attend the We Speak! Fundraising Gala

Celebrating Squamish Language & Culture

All are invited to join Kwi Awt Stelmexw for the second annual We Speak! Fundraising Gala on April 8, 2017. This is an event to celebrate another year of achievements towards Squamish Language revitalization, and to fundraise for our next big dream: a Squamish Language Centre!

The evening will feature comedy by Ryan McMahon, a delicious four-course dinner by Indigenous chefs, a silent auction showcasing local Coast Salish art, and Squamish Karaoke! We are also proud to be honouring the 15 new Squamish speakers graduating from the Squamish immersion program at this year’s Gala.

All funds raised at the We Speak! Gala will go towards building a Squamish Language Centre in the community.

Would you like to learn more about this exciting opportunity to support the Squamish Language?

Yes, I would love to learn more!


To enter to win two tickets to the We Speak! Fundraising Gala on April 8th 2017, do any of the following. Each action counts as one entry:

1. Follow Kwi Awt Stelmexw on Instagram – @KwiAwtStelmexw and leave a comment on this photo.

2. Tweet the following:

  • Win 2 tickets to the We Speak! Fundraising Gala presented by @KwiAwtStelmexw in #Vancouver via RT to enter!

3. Share this post from our official Facebook page.

4. Leave a comment below telling us your favourite Squamish Language word.

Contest entries will be accepted from the time and date of publishing until 11:59 pm on March 4, 2017. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted through the platform they used to enter.

Seeking Your Input: Vision Statement for Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim

Seeking Your Input: Vision Statement for Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim

Collaboration for the Future of Our Language

Kwi Awt Stelmexw is seeking your feedback on the Vision Statement for Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim, developed last year as part of a community-wide process to develop a 25-Year Strategic Action Plan for the Squamish Language. Visit the survey here or complete the form at the end of this post.

Our Language Planning Project

Since 2015, Kwi Awt Stelmexw has been facilitating a community-wide planning process for Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim as part of the Language Revitalization Planning Program. This process has involved bringing together Squamish Nation members through a series of events and meetings to discuss the current state of our language and our dreams for its future. The goal is to develop a 25-Year Strategic Action Plan for the Squamish Language that outlines targets, strategies, and ways to participate in the revitalization of Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim. Our aim is to ensure maximum community participation and input, so that all Squamish peoples can feel proud of, and participate in, the Action Plan.

To date we have achieved the following:

  • Administered the Skwxwú7mesh Languages Assessment Survey to understand the needs and interests of the community
  • Began work to address these needs, such as the creation of the Skwxwú7mesh Immersion Program and the Language in the Homes project
  • Created a repository of existing Skwxwú7mesh resources
  • Hosted the Visioning Café for the Squamish Language
  • Convened a working group to bring the ideas of the Visioning Café together and draft the Vision Statement for Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim

The Survey

We are now seeking feedback on the Vision Statement for Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim. This statement will be the foundation upon which the 25-Year Strategic Action Plan is written, so it is important to us that the majority of Squamish peoples can identify with it and feel compelled to work towards it. While we accept feedback from anyone, we are especially hoping for input from Squamish Nation members and others with Squamish ancestry. The survey only contains a few questions and should take you less than 5 minutes to complete. Click here to take the survey online, or you can simply fill it out below at the end of this post!

Next Steps

On March 12, 2017, we will be hosting our next community event for strategic language planning. At this event, we will be honouring those who have worked hard for Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim (our language warriors!), and we will present the finalized Vision Statement to the community. We will then begin facilitated group work to start the next phase of strategic planning: developing specific goals and targets for the language. Please join us on March 12 for the Honouring Language Champions & Visioning Café.

We will continue to host language planning events over the course of the next year, and hope to have a draft Strategic Action Plan for Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim by the end of 2017!

How To Read The Squamish Language

How To Read The Squamish Language

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh was historically an oral language without a formal writing system. Various writing systems have been developed over the years including a shorthand writing system used by Bishop Durieu in 1880s, a North American Phonetic Alphabet-based writing system used by Aert H. Kuipers, and most recently the typewriter based writing system developed by linguist Randy Bouchard with Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaker Louie Miranda. The most recently developed system was adopted as the official writing system by the Squamish Nation in 1990 and is used by most contemporary language speakers.

The vowels in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh are:

aas in English “fat”, “bat”

eas in English “sill”, “bill” (when between palatal sounds l, lh, x, y, s, ts, ts’, k, k’, ḵ, ḵ’) or as in English “pull” or “bull” (when between labialized sounds m, w, kw, kw’, ḵw, ḵw’, xw, xw).

iis used to represent two sounds. One as in English “antique”, “beet”, “eel”, and…

ias in English “jail”, “sail”

uas in English “no”, “go”, “crow”

Most vowels can be followed by [y] or [w] in the same syllable:

awas in English “cow”

ayrare in English, some have it in “sang”

ewas in Canadian English “about”

eyas in English “bait”

iwas in English “peewee” minus the last “ee”

iyas in English “beet”

uwas in English “ah well” minus the last “ell”


as in English “toy”

These could include glottalized versions with w̓ or y̓. This is to indicate there’s a hard stop at the end of those vowels (ex. /ayy/ versus /ay7/).

All words with multiple vowels will indicate stress on at least one vowel (like á or é or í or ú). The stress marks are needed to tell which part of the word is said louder and slightly longer. Without this, a speaker will have a foreign accent or say the wrong word.  Stress does not change the pronunciation of a vowel.

The only consonants which are pronounced like those in English are:

pas in English “pill” and “spin”

tas in English “tick” and “stand”

chas in English “church”

tsas in English “rats”

kas in English “king” and “skill”

kwas in English “inkwell” and “queen”

shas in English “shine”

sas in English “sill”

has in English “hat”

mas in English “man” and “bottom”


as in English “no” and “new”

las in English “land” and “camels”


as in English “yes” and “say”

was in English “wood” and “how”

This leaves eighteen sounds, most of which do not occur in English:

ḵmade by raising the very back of the tongue to touch the soft palate

ḵwmade just like the ḵ but with rounded lips

glottalized m which means the constant is pronounced with a harder emphasis. Imagine there being a glottal stop “7” on the consonant.

glottalized n which means the constant is pronounced with a harder emphasis. Imagine there being a glottal stop “7” on the consonant.

glottalized l which means the constant is pronounced with a harder emphasis. Imagine there being a glottal stop “7” on the consonant.

There are ten consonants written with an apostrophe: ch’, k’, kw’, p’, ḵ’, ḵw’, t’, ts’, tl’. These are popped or glottalized consonants.

7glottal stop. It is found in a few words in English like, “mutton” or “button”, or Cockney English “bottle”, or beginning each “uh” in “uh-uh” (the sound meaning “no”), or the sound beginning “earns” in “Mary earns” when pronounced differently from “Mary yearns.”

lhmade by putting your tongue in position to say an “l” but then blowing air (like an “h”) around the sides of the tongue. This sound may be heard in English after “k” sound in a few words like “clean” (klhin) or “clear” or “climb.”

There are three blown x̱ sounds. These sounds are made by raising the tongue to narrow the passage of air till you hear the friction of the air:

xwmade with the tongue raised a little further back, by the middle off the hard palate (roof of the mouth), but it also requires rounded lips. It sounds a lot like wh in some words in English but with more friction on the roof of the mouth.

xmade still further back, in fact with the back of the tongue raised close to the soft palate (where the ḵ is made). German has this sound in “ach” for example, and Scottish has it in “loch” meaning “lake.”

xwmade in the same back place as x but is also made with round lips. It is like a blown qw while x is like a blown q.


“Key to the Stó:lō Writing System for Halq’eméylem”, in Keith Thor Carlson (ed.), You Are Asked to Witness: The Stó:lō in Canada’s Pacific Coast History (Chilliwack, BC: Stó:lō Heritage Trust, 1997), v–vi.

“How To Write The Squamish Language” by Louie Miranda, Squamish Nation

HIRING: Executive Assistant to Khelsilem

Vancouver, BC | Part Time (approx. 32 hours per 2 weeks)


Khelsilem seeks an an individual who likes inspiring work changing the world. Khelsilem’s work ranges from co-Executive Director of numerous non-profits, soon to be lecturer at a local university, and leadership in the Indigenous Language Revitalization movement. You value innovation, community, and brainstorming solutions to our works’ most challenging problems. The role is administrative support, meeting deadlines, and providing general assistance to the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks of a hard-working nonprofit executive. You are a hard-working, self-motivated individual who can meet the demands of this job but also bring an interest in expanding your role over time.


  • Minimum 1 year experience with administrative support.
  • Excellent communications skills, including strong written communication in English.
  • Ability to prioritize and appropriately direct incoming communications, emails in particular.
  • Strong coordination skills for arranging events, meetings, travel speaking engagements, and other appointments.
  • Ability to assist with updating contact lists, tracking receipts and purchases.
  • Assisting with writing and research projects.
  • Ability to make bank deposits, keeping sound financial records for the organization.
  • Pick up and delivery of packages, mail, and other items.
  • Ability to assist with updating social media accounts.
  • Mature, low-ego mindset with a passion for highly organized administration.


  • Computer skills, particularly Google Docs and Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook)
  • Experience with, or willingness to learn, data entry including in Excel, online databases such as Mailchimp, and others.
  • Ease with learning how to fill out various forms and documents related to the job (financial, booking requests, etc.). Managing documents and signatures.
  • Valid driver’s license and access to a working vehicle.
  • Possess laptop or equivalent.
  • Outgoing personality with strong social skills, including representing the organization at special events.
  • Willing to be trained for any of the above requirements.
  • Progressive social and environmental values.
  • Understanding of the importance of Aboriginal language and cultural revitalization work.


Position is for approximately 32 hours/two weeks.
Pay will be $20.63/hour (Vancouver living wage) or negotiable based on experience.
Hours are flexible but will generally be during normal work hours.
Three (3) month trial period with potential for longer term contract.


We encourage applications from Aboriginal persons, women, LGBTQ-identified persons, and people of colour. If you feel like this is a job for you, please fill out an online application to tell us more about who you are! You do not need to submit a resume.


Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and the position will close when the best candidate is identified. Only selected candidates will be interviewed.